Thursday, September 8, 2016

Why you need high "CRI"

Okay - so you're probably wondering, "What is CRI and why do I need it?"

Color rendition refers to how colors appear when viewed under a particular light source. Daylight is the perfect light source and gives the best color rendition.  We tend to compare how things look based on what we're accustomed to seeing in daylight.  

The higher the CRI, the better the color rendering ability. Light sources with a CRI of 85 to 90 are considered good at color rendering. Light sources with a CRI of 90 or higher are excellent at color rendering and should be used for tasks requiring the most accurate color discrimination.

The International Commission on Illumination (CIE), the global authority on lighting and color, has even devised a Color Rendering Index (CRI) that uses a scale of 1-100 to measure how well a light source reproduces color in the same way sunlight does. The closer a source gets to 100, the more accurately it renders colors.

Superior color rendition is important so colors and textures look their best.  It is recommended that for homes, the CRI be 80 or better.  My personal choice is 90 or better.  Although you may be using LED bulbs that are 2700K, it still looks too white.  K which stands for Kelvin is the color temperature of a light source and 2700 is the color temperature of incandescent lighting, however, the average CRI of incandescent is 98. 

This is why when viewing a red apple indoors under an incandescent bulb, for example, the apple’s color will appear very similar to how it looks outside in daylight. Under a white fluorescent bulb with a 50-60 CRI, it will have a bluish cast.

Unfortunately, the bulbs you find in big box and hardware stores do not indicate the CRI.  Most likely it's 80 at best.  If you want the optimum color rendition, look for stores and on-line sources that specialize in bulbs.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Who's Afraid of an LED?

Back in the 1890’s, when the first light bulbs became available, people were afraid of electricity so they added electric lights (turned downward) into their gas light chandeliers (turned upward).  The idea was to keep the gas capability as a back-up just in case the electricity blew up.  These fixtures were in fashion for about 5 minutes.  
Yet, that’s what so many people are doing today – clinging to old technology when the newer one is an improvement over what they are accustomed to.   

Forget about hoarding incandescent bulbs!  Here is what you need to know… 

The first thing you must wrap your mind around is that LED is a different technology.

LED stands for “Light Emitting Diode”.  Diodes are chemically treated points that glow when electricity is run through it.  

BENEFITS of LED over incandescent and fluorescent include:
  • Low Power Requirement: Most require approximately one tenth the electricity of incandescent.
  • High Efficiency: The power to an LED is converted into light with minimal heat production.
  • Long Life: When properly installed, an LED can function for decades.
  • Cooler than incandescent bulbs in operation because any heat created is contained inside.
  • Lowest Cost over ownership of all other lights.

Get the right bulb for each task and fixture:
  • Table lamps and ceiling fixtures -  choose 2700K (Kelvin).  This is the color temperature that is closest to the warmth of incandescent. 
  • Bathrooms and kitchens - where you may require a whiter, cleaner light, choose 3000K.  Under 2700K the light becomes very yellow/red – great for romantic light in a restaurant.  Over 3000K – up to 5000K – the light becomes extremely white like daylight.
  • Pendants and chandeliers - look for torpedo and candelabra shapes now in soft white or clear.

The human eye sees LED lighting differently than incandescent
– even at 2700K.  That’s because most LED bulbs have a CRI (Color Rendering Index) of only 80 as compared to incandescent which is 100.  LED bulbs carried by big box and hardware stores do not even indicate the CRI (and sometimes the Kelvin) on the packaging, but figure they’re all about 80.  Look for brand name bulbs that have a CRI above 90.  This makes a huge difference in how the light is perceived.

Dimming LED bulbs –
requires a low-voltage wall dimmer. This is because traditional dimmers used for incandescent cannot sense the extremely low wattage these bulbs use.  For instance, a 40-watt equivalent LED candelabra uses only 4-watts!  Low-voltage dimmers are inexpensive and fit within designer wall plates such as Decora style.  Most will work with whole-house lighting systems such as Lutron.

LED replacements
are available where you now use halogen, such as MR16’s (used in tracks and recessed fixtures), traditional incandescent Edison and candelabra bulbs, as well as tubular fluorescent shapes and outdoor par lamps.

LED bulbs that look and light like the incandescents you still love!  
Now available through

212.750.1500 ▪

Yes - this is an LED!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A 1928 Icon gets a new life - and look!

140 West Street, NYC

 Lampworks is proud to have made the exterior Deco light fixtures for the landmark skyscraper, 140 West Street, formerly known as the Barclay-Vesey Building, designed to house New York Telephone’s Headquarters.     

Completed in 1927 with room for 6,000 employees, its lobby has 22-foot-high ceilings and features murals depicting the history of communication.  The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission said the building was a "pivotal structure in the history of skyscraper architecture."  


The new entrance is at 100 Barclay Street.  Lampworks’ wall lights illuminate three sides, and twelve hanging lanterns will be installed along the Guastavino-vaulted pedestrian arcade across from the Freedom Tower, to illuminate luxury retail shops

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

ICFF - Triangular Reasoning

The 2015 ICFF (International Contemporary Furniture Fair), which was held this week at the Javits Center in NYC, was a proverbial feast for the eyes.  It was quite gratifying to see so many artisans and products that are made in the US.

The trend I found to be most interesting is the use of triangles, angles, and honeycomb shapes.  In fact, there were so many, I will include what I simply have room for!  First, I will start with the lighting - which of course is near and dear to me...

James Dieter's new fixture "Ketta", is like a breath of air on which his three-dimensional kite-like fixtures float.  These will surely add a punch of color in any space. 

TJ OKeefe makes so many sculptural pieces with triangles, utilizing positive and negative space in many exciting ways.

David Gaynor of DG Design created mirrors of triangles with a corner cut off - sort of a squashed rhomboid.

And who would have thought that a chair made from triangles is comfortable? It was designed to lean - this is the left handed reader's chair. Check out the cool things at WICZNY.

And last, but not least - rugs in glorious colors all created from triangle from Lindstrom Rugs

 So let's get to the point...triangles are now cutting edge!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Are LEDs the answer to everything?!

Whenever I give a lecture on lighting, I start out with, "Lighting is like a jewelry box.  It can never be too full! And, just like you wear your jewelry in different combinations, you use lighting in different combinations depending upon how you are using a space, or the effect you wish to achieve.
A variety to mix and match.

It's important to make sure that the lamps you use are appropriate to the the task.  For instance, LEDs are directional.  The light will go straight out from the diodes.  So, if you are lighting a cove and want the lights to go up, LED is perfect.  But if you have a cove with a bottom diffuser and want the light to shine up and down, you need to put strips of LEDs back to back - one for the up light and one for the down light.  In this case, you may be better off with tube lighting that glows in all directions.  One type is cold-cathode.  Cold Cathode lasts 80,000-100,000 hours, whereas LED lasts up to 50,000 hours.  

Up lit Cove Lighting Combined with Incandescent Table Lamps

What about the color of LED light?  Yes, they are available in 2700K, the color of incandescent, but often they still look very white.  This is because the CRI (Color Rendering Index) is low.  The highest possible CRI is100, however, most LEDs are about 80.  If color is critical, a quality LED will offer 92-95 CRI.  Fluorescent is typically about 50 - no wonder they make colors look so sickly!

Then there is the temperature at which they operate.  We all know that Halogen is very hot.  Xenon is also quite hot but lasts at least twice as long as Halogen.  Incandescent gives off a bit less heat, and fluorescent is cooler still.  LEDs give off a lot of heat but are built with heat-sinks that absorb and contain the heat, and cold-cathode is amazingly cool.

We have to weigh all the benefits of every type of light, and when mixing different forms of lamps there are many factors to consider - heat and lumen output, Kelvin, CRI, and longevity, not to mention the energy they require.  Whew!  It isn't easy, but at least there are a wide range of choices.  

LED can't be everything to everyone - but it is getting better all the time!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


I have a bit of a dilemma.  Our
company specializes in sustainable lighting, yet I work in Hell's Kitchen, part of the Times Square area.  According to Free Tours by Foot of NYC, "Con Ed estimated that at the peak of electrical use in the Theater District, approximately 161 Megawatts of electricity is being used at any one time.  We have read that one megawatt could power one thousand U.S. homes.  That's 161,000 U.S. homes."

Every morning I walk through this section of the town where lights are flashing constantly - in broad daylight.  In the evening, as I leave, more lamps are added making the streets feel like a sunny day all through the night!

Yet, there's a constant push to conserve energy - insulating our homes to save heating oil, improving  the mileage in our vehicles to conserve gas, and putting a few token fluorescent bulbs into our garages to save electricity.  So - what about the other areas of our homes and workplaces?

A designer recently told me how she is stocking up on incandescent bulbs because they're no longer being manufactured.  Sure you can still find incandescents left in stock - but what to do when they're all gone? As of January 1st 2013, manufacturers were no longer making 40 and 60 watt incandescent light bulbs as they do not meet new energy efficiency standards.  The 75 and 100 watt bulbs were already banned.  That leaves consumers with three basic options; Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), light emitting diode (LED), or Halogen lights.  

Personally, I don't see a need for CFL's, especially since they contain mercury and emit more heat  than LEDs.   LEDs have gone through a few different incarnations in recent years and although they generate a lot of heat (yes -they do!), they have "heat sinks" which absorb and enclose it.  This cuts down on your A/C electric load.

LED is available as an A Lamp - a medium/Edison base commonly used in decorative table lamps and overhead enclosed fixtures, par lamp - used for exterior floods and interior recessed fixtures, MR - used for track and recessed fixtures, tubes - to replace tubular fluorescents, and candelabra. Getting candelabras right, however, is still a challenge.  We use them mostly in fixtures with exposed bulbs - like chandeliers.  Since they only have an equivalent of 25-watts output, they aren't useful in every situation, and they're not very pretty since you can see the diodes (the little dotty light sources) and have a clunky heat sink.  Recently developed is an incandescent-looking LED that appears to have a "filament".

All are available in a variety of wattage and color temperatures.  It's important to check the Kelvin (K), which is the color temperature.  The right color of light can set or break the mood, or if you're working, the right color can make your task easier.  Many new LEDs are also dimmable. 

If you'd like to learn more about alternative lighting - check out our Sustainable Lighting Page - chock full of existing technology used in new, more efficient ways.  Very soon we will all see the world in a whole new light!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Oh where oh where have the Showrooms gone?!

Have you noticed how so many home furnishings buildings are practically empty - of showrooms and visitors?  This is due to three things - the Internet, the economy, and the demographics of potential clients.  Now, instead of the whoosh of fabric wings - you can hear a pin drop...

Growing up in the sixties, my parents hired an interior designer.  They chose a single practitioner who took them to upholsterers and cabinet-makers in Brooklyn, fabric jobbers on the Lower East Side, and small shops that represented furniture manufacturers from New England, the Mid-West and North Carolina.  


She made interesting lamps from antiques discovered at country auctions, and used family photos, memorabilia and collectibles to accessorize.  Specialty stores like Sloane, B. Altman and Bloomingdale's had wonderful furniture, and yes, fabric and lighting departments too, which are all gone, or are remnants of their former selves. They too, were her sources.

About that time, someone came up with the idea of consolidating sources into one building so designers could find everything in one place.  Then as competition grew fierce showroom owners and manufacturers spent more money in an effort to attract the trade.  This spawned a new industry where each manufacturer supported dozens of "retail-to-the-trade" showrooms across the country. Prices increased to pay rent and sales staff.  In an effort to boost sales to support these spaces they began importing everything from exotic trim to furniture and hand-made lighting.  An exploding assortment of home-furnishings attracted upper middle class and high end residential clients, corporate and hospitality buyers.

Soon, there were a dozen major showroom buildings within large metropolitan areas as well as smaller buildings in outlying cities.  The economy went up and down, but showrooms rode the waves knowing that eventually their clients would return.  And then... a triple whammy.  About the same time the economy dropped off the first cliff in 2008, a proliferation of Chinese goods hit the market.  At this same time consumers started buying home furnishings and antiques on the Internet.  They were scooped up like canned goods on Fresh Direct!  Who would have figured that someone would spend thousands on  a sofa they hadn't even sat in?

After all, a trade showroom is just a brick and mortar store in a high rise building.  Those who do survive offer merchandise and services that cannot be found elsewhere.  Two of my favorites are located in the NYDC amd are worth the trip!  They're family businesses; Korts & Knight, a jewel of a cabinet shop that can do anything, and Louis J. Solomon, whose custom upholstery can also be seen in their LI showroom.

The touchy-feely days are waning and demand for quality goods has vanished.  The expectation that everything will be delivered instantly is par for the course.  Many current end-users care not whether the bedspread coordinates with the draperies and certainly won't wait 12 weeks.  They want instant comfort, the latest electronics, and lowest price.

Film Center, Hell's Kitchen, NYC

Showrooms cannot survive without walk-in traffic.  Many have either consolidated, downsized, moved out or gone out.  Design professionals and their clients search sources on the net - and occasionally visit those that need to be seen in person.  This entails trips to Brooklyn, LIC, and other parts of the hinter land.

We've had more serious visitors to our new space in The Film Center Building in Hell's Kitchen than we did in the Design District or any design center.  We are now a hip and happy destination. appears that things have come full circle.